Single mother looking for affordable housing in Lexington has stalled

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) – A Lexington woman is still looking for affordable housing after months of searching the city.

Davita Gatewood received notice to vacate her rented home in January. But says she started looking long before. It has been months now and she is still looking for a home for her and her children.

“I’ve pounded the pavement, been through private landlords, even looked at homeownership, and been unlucky. The biggest problem is that so many landlords won’t take Section 8” , Gatewood said.

While her apartment gave her an extension to finalize her move, with each passing day she knows she’s headed to eviction court.

“I try to be optimistic about myself and my kids and resourceful as possible,” Gatewood said. “But honestly, yes, mostly because I can’t find anything. And it’s not because we’re not looking. It’s extremely expensive.”

District 2 council member Josh McCurn says housing is limited and rental prices continue to climb.

“170 houses in Lexington is a very rare number and it is getting smaller and smaller. Hopefully there will be a warmer market in the real estate world coming here at the end of the summer or late spring. But everyone is fighting over these homes right now,” McCurn said.

Gatewood is one of many facing uncertain eviction rights according to Fayette Court data.

There were 486 forced detention cases filed in March. That’s more than there has been since February 2019 – A date that is more than a year before the pandemic hit.

“These numbers are going to start going up more and more and that’s my worst fear,” said at-large council member Richard Maloney.

Malone and McCurn, members of the Urban County Government Board, tried to find a solution. The idea they’re trying to push is to expand the Urban Services Frontier (USB) to allow people to build houses near the freeway. It separates rural land from urban development.

You can find more information about USB here.

“It’s a golden opportunity as we begin to build on the highway to eastern Kentucky and build homes, jobs and opportunity,” Maloney said. “I’m looking at the next 20-30 years because we keep going like this, we’re not going to have a generation.”

For Fayette Alliance, attractive solutions would use land already zoned for housing and sustainably use more space.

“A big part of growing our community is making sure our community members can afford to live in Lexington, Fayette County. And so, the way we approach affordable housing is d from a policy perspective. How can we impact and make local change here with our policies? How can we make affordable housing easier to develop? Easier to build? How can we reduce barriers to development? affordable housing and all of this from a policy perspective?” said Executive Director Brittany Roethemeier.

For those struggling right now, the city’s new Office of Housing and Community Development Advocacy is still working on tools to help struggling residents right now, who can’t afford to wait.

In February, the city’s commissioner for housing advocacy and community development told us that they were working on a list of affordable housing in the city and hiring a housing advocate.

When we reached out on Wednesday for an update on how close they were able to help, we did not receive a response until this story was published.

Meanwhile, Gatewood has two months to find a solution.

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